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Asia-pacific

Thai army denies coup reports

Video by George HARRIS

Text by REUTERS

Latest update : 2008-11-27

Thailand's army spokesman denied the military was planning a coup, adding that troops were not willing to move in on thousands of protesters occupying two Bangkok airports. Soldiers were earlier ordered to remain in their barracks.

Thailand's army spokesman on Thursday denied  the military was planning to stage a coup, as rumours circulated that they would step in to end political turmoil in the kingdom.
   
"The military have moved tanks for strategic purposes but I can confirm that there is no coup and the military has not been ordered to be on stand-by," Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd told AFP.
   
The spokesman said the tanks had been moved in an area of Bangkok near parliament as part of a display for cadets.
   
A government spokesman had moments earlier made an address on national radio urging the military to stay in their barracks, and denying that the government had any plans to remove the army chief.
   
Thailand has been on edge for days as thousands of anti-government demonstrators forced the closure of Bangkok's two airports.
   
Sunsern said the army was not willing to move in on the thousands of protesters currently camped out in the two airports, forcing the suspension of almost all flights out of the kingdom.
   
"There will be massive losses of lives if the army have to crack down on the protesters, much more than October 7," he said, referring to a clash last month between police and protesters that left two people dead and nearly 500 hurt.
   
He also said that any moves to stage a coup could meet strong resistance from pro-government supporters, who have taken to wearing red shirts to counter the yellow ones of the anti-government groups.
   
"Facing off with the red-shirted people will also result in massive losses.  Those two options are not suitable -- that is why the army suggests both camps compromise," he said.
   
The powerful army chief General Anupong Paojinda has urged Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to call new elections to end the turmoil, but he has refused.

Date created : 2008-11-27

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